Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Veeries very quiet when owls are about

Date:
July 30, 2013
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Study shows birds eavesdrop on owls and change their dusk singing patterns to avoid becoming potential prey. If you hear an owl hooting at dusk, don't expect to catch the flute-like song of a Veery nearby. This North American thrush has probably also heard the hoots, and is singing much less to ensure that it does not become an owl's next meal.

Veeries stay quiet when they hear owls calling.
Credit: Kenneth Schmidt

Study shows birds eavesdrop on owls and change their dusk singing patterns to avoid becoming potential prey

If you hear an owl hooting at dusk, don't expect to catch the flute-like song of a Veery nearby. This North American thrush has probably also heard the hoots, and is singing much less to ensure that it does not become an owl's next meal.

Research by Kenneth Schmidt of Texas Tech University and Kara Loeb Belinsky of Arcadia University in the US, published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, provides insights into just how eavesdropping between predators and prey around dusk may be shaping communication in birds.. The study is the first to use the playback of recorded owl vocalization at sunset to study how birds change their behavior when potential predators are heard nearby.

Perching birds are generally more exposed during periods of extended singing. They are less vigilant and their song can often attract the attention of a predator to their fixed location. Despite this risk, dawn and dusk chorusing is a common trait. One such perching bird is the Veery (Catharus fuscescens), a common small brown and white thrush that is most active during the day. Its most common call is a harsh, descending "vee-er," from which the bird gets its name. This particularly vocal bird has a breezy, flute-like song, a pronounced dusk chorus and is often heard singing well after sunset.. This behavior could potentially expose the bird to predation.

The study was done on the forested property of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, where up to three pairs of barred owls live. This owl species is known to be a predator of Veeries. The researchers found that the Veeries reduced their singing patterns for up to 30 minutes after recorded owl sounds were played. The songbirds also displayed fewer extended singing bouts at dusk and stopped singing much earlier in the evening.

"Singing becomes much more risky in the low light of dusk when owls are around," explains Schmidt. "However, by eavesdropping on owls, Veeries can adapt their singing behavior to decrease the risk of predation."

Schmidt adds that the study of the avian dusk chorus has been largely ignored relative to the more well-researched dawn chorus. "Further studies of dusk chorus singing may reveal how the risk of being attacked by predators has contributed to the evolution of singing behavior at dusk," he believes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kenneth A. Schmidt, Kara Loeb Belinsky. Voices in the dark: predation risk by owls influences dusk singing in a diurnal passerine. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1593-7

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Veeries very quiet when owls are about." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130730091257.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2013, July 30). Veeries very quiet when owls are about. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130730091257.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Veeries very quiet when owls are about." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130730091257.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins